6.1 Aiden's Art Of Being Entranced

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I knew Scarlett was rich

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I knew Scarlett was rich. I didn't expect her to be filthy rich.

Her mansion in Back Bay Beacon Hill -- because 'house' is an understatement -- is bigger than any house I've ever seen in real life. Just from the outside, I can see several stories and sets of windows on each floor telling me there are more than a dozen rooms. The walls are high enough for the house to have fortress security and I see guards stationed at the gate larger than my entire apartment. I see a line of cars parked through the wrought-iron bars. all black and sparkling brand new.

Heart beating fast, my stomach sinks when my mind automatically compares my lifestyle with Scarlett's. I think about it objectively for a moment, a trainee psychologist whose dress probably costs more than my car and a dinner that probably has more courses than I can taste in the entire month, and a college dropout working double shifts to make ends meet.

Not in a million years can I ever match up to her standard.

"Just around here," she interrupts my musings and I slam my foot on the break much too abruptly.

The car jerks to a sudden halt and I clutch the wheel so tight my knuckles turn white.

"Sorry," I mumble, sounding breathless and unsure. Swallowing back my insecurities, I try to appear normal. Even after inhaling rapid deep breaths, I can't bring myself to look up at Scarlett and meet her gaze. I feel so stupid all of a sudden, taking her to McDonald's and insisting I pay for a burger? She must have only eaten the crap because she pitied me.

There is silence in the car, and even the sound of the rain pattering against my windshield and the cars zooming past in the downpour seems to have faded into the background. My own heart beats loudly in my ears, causing my fingers to tremble so that I curl my hands into fists around the wheel and hope Scarlett won't notice.

My breath catches in my throat when her soft fingers touch my coarse ones.

She noticed.

"Look at me."

I don't want to and yet I do, noticing the tenderness in her grey eyes. With my doubts soaring high, I search closely, looking for the slightest signs of pity or mocking sympathy. I see nothing but honesty and kindness.

"My dad's home," she says as if that explains it. "If he wasn't, I'd invite you in."

A sound halfway between a scoff and a snort rips out of my throat. The slight raise of eyebrows is questioning and I don't like it one bit, averting my gaze so she won't see how skeptical I am of everything.

"What are you thinking, Aiden?"

Closing my eyes, I roll my lower lip between my teeth and shake my head slowly.

"Please tell me."

How can I say no when she speaks to me like that?

"Your dad will probably think I'm here to apply to be his servant or something," I say with a humorless laugh. "Unless they get paid more than me because ... I mean ..." My voice clogs in my throat and I slowly shift my fingers out from beneath Scarlett's, sighing.

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